Faria, Octávio De 1908-1984
FARIA, Octávio de 1908-1984
PERSONAL: Born October 15, 1908, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; died 1984, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; son of Alberto (an author) and Maria Teresa (Almeida) de Faria. Education: Attended Colégio Santo Antônio Maria Zacaria, 1922-26; Escola Nacional de Direito, law degree, 1931.
CAREER: Author, literary critic, translator. Member of the Federal Council of Culture; cofounder of the Chaplin Club and O Fan (magazine).
AWARDS, HONORS: Philip Oliveira prize, 1942, for O Lodo das ruas; Luiza Claude de Souza prize, Pen Club of Brazil, 1967, for A sombra de deus; Dolphin of Literature prize, Museum of Image and Sound, 1968; National Institute of Books prize, 1968, for Novelas da masmorra, 1968; Brazilian Academy of Letters prize, 1970, for body of work; elected to the Brazilian Academy of Letters, 1972; Fernando Chinaglia prize, 1972, for O Cavaleiro da virgem.
"TRAGÉDIA BURGUESA" SERIES (TITLE MEANS "BOURGEOIS TRAGEDY")
Mundos mortos (title means "Dead Worlds"), J. Olympio (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1937.
Os Caminhos da vida (title means "The Ways of Life"), J. Olympio (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1939.
O Lodo das ruas (title means "The Silt of the Streets"), J. Olympio (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1942.
O Anjo de pedra (title means "The Rock Angel"), J. Olympio (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1944.
Os Renegados (title means "The Renegades"), J. Olympio (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1947.
Os Loucos (title means "The Insane"), J. Olympio (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1952.
O Senhor do mundo (title means "Lord of the World"), J. Olympio (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1957.
O Retrato da morte (title means "The Portrait of Death"), J. Olympio (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1961.
Angela, ou as Areias do mundo (title means "Angela or Areias of the World"), J. Olympio (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1963.
A sombra deus (title means "The Shade of God"), J. Olympio (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1966.
O Cavaleiro da virgem (title means "The Knight of the Virgin"), Companhia Editôra Americana (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1971.
O Indigno (title means "The Unworthy"), Pallas (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1976.
O Pássaro oculto (title means "The Occult Bird"), Pallas (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1979.
Tragédia burguesa (complete series in four volumes, plus Atração and A Montanheta), Pallas (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1984-85.
Maquiavel e o Brasil (title means "Maquiavel and Brazil"), Schmidt (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1931.
O Destino do socialismo (title means "The Destiny of Socialism"), Ariel (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1933.
Dois poetas: Augusto Frederico Schmidt e Vinicius deMorais (title means "Two Poets: Augusto Frederico Schmidt and Vinicius de Morais"), Ariel (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1935.
Cristo e César (title means "Christ and Cesar"), J. Olympio (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1937.
Três Tragédias à Sombra da Cruz (contains the plays Yokanaan, Pilatos, and Judas), J. Olympio (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1938.
Fronteiras da santidade: Ensaio sobre Leon Bloy (title means "Borders of Sanctity: Essay on Leon Bloy"), 1940.
Significação do Far-West: Estudos sobre cinema (title means "Significance of the Far West: Studies on Cinema"), Ministério da Educação e Saúde (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1952.
Pequena introduçáo a história do cinema (title means "Small Introduction to the History of Cinema"), Martins (São Paulo, Brazil), 1964.
Três novelas da masmorra: Memóroias de um cão danado (title means "Novels of the Dungeon"), Gráfica Editôra Record (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1968.
O Grande Assalto do demônio (title means "Big Assault of the Devil"), Companhia Editora Americana (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), 1973, c. 1970.
Translator of works by Jacob Wasserman, Thomas Hardy, Jean Lartéguy, Joseph Kessell, and others. Contributor to periodicals and literary magazines.
SIDELIGHTS: Octávio de Faria was an author, critic and translator, and a provocative figure in Brazilian intellectual circles during the 1930s. He was born of privilege, and his maternal grandfather, Thomaz Coehlho de Almeida, served twice as imperial minister under Dom Pedro II and founded the Colégio Militar. Faria's father was a member of the Academy of Letters, as were his brothers-in-law, Alceu Amoroso Lima and writer Afrânio Peixoto. The family owned mansions in both Rio de Janeiro and Petrópolis.
Faria's "Tragédia burguesa," fifteen volumes published over four decades, is his ongoing study of the failed spirituality of a generation that matured between the wars. He was a contributor to many publications and was recognized for his own work by Brazil's Academy of Letters. Although Faria held a degree in law, he never used it, instead devoting himself to literature.
Faria favored the introspective novel of the 1930s. Randal Johnson wrote in Ideologies and Literature that "despite his literary concern with exploring the psychological, moral, and spiritual despair of his characters and his close identification with Catholic currents in Brazilian literature, Octávio de Faria was far from being an apolitical writer. As a literary critic, he engaged in polemics with Jorge Amado and other writers of the left about the role and nature of literature and literary practice, frequently denouncing what he called 'um excesso de Norte,' criticizing sociological fiction—especially the 'proletarian novel'—and lamenting the 'hatred' he saw as characterizing modern Brazilian letters." His enthusiasm for film led Faria to found the Chaplin Club and the film magazine O Fan, yet he was opposed to sound.
Before beginning his "Tragédia burguesa," Faria wrote several book-length essays that reflect his political views, including the dangers of democracy and socialism. Faria was influenced by European thinkers, such as Nietzsche, Berdiaef, and Maurras, and also by Jackson de Figueiredo, Alceu Amoroso Lima, and others of the Brazilian Catholic right. Johnson noted that these essays "are admittedly fascist in ideology and allegiance."
With Mundo mortos, Faria gave up political writing in favor of addressing religion and literary subjects. The books of "Tragédia burguesa" follow a number of characters through life, like the noble Branco and Father Luís. Most of Faria's characters are struggling with temptation and attempting to resist the sins of the flesh. Johnson noted that "Faria's authoritarianism is closely linked to a fear of disorder and a desire for a return to a past in which traditional values were respected and revered. The 'Tragédia burguesa' is his fullest expression of his desire for order and stability in both spiritual and political terms. If the bourgeois is the Devil's favorite son, liberalism is the corresponding political evil."
Linda S. Chang wrote in Discurso Literario that "while most Brazilian literature of ideological advocacy presents its fictional world from a leftist viewpoint, the 'Tragédia burguesa' reflects a rightist position closely linked to the author's conservative religious beliefs. Morality, rather than socio-political theory, is the structuring element of this cycle, but the conflict between Good and Evil is probed through its repercussions in the problematic social relationships of the characters, including their participation in and attitudes toward political activity."
In Mundos mortos, Branco first encounters his rival, Pedro Borges, who it is said will later enjoy a successful literary career. In Os Caminhos da vida, Branco loses to Borges in a fraudulent election for the position of editor of a school journal, a plot that mirrors Faria's vision of the moral and political corruption of Brazil. In Os Renegados, Branco tells his grandfather, Alvaro Barros, that he does not believe in politics, and Barros, upset with his grandson's announcement, tells him the story of Antonio Silvio, his fugitive uncle. Leftist revolutionary Silvio and his wife are killed in O Retrato da morte, and Branco makes a decision to similarly do away with Borges.
In O Indigno, political turmoil comes to a head. Chang wrote that "in contrast to the dark vision of brutal zealots vaguely reflected in Retrato, we are presented with a daytime melodrama of petty yet venomous small town politics, a caricature of factionalism that is the closest Faria ever comes to humor."
The final book, O Pássaro oculto, finds Branco being tried for murder and, after being acquitted, coping with his guilt. "The personal violence represented by Branco's 'white knight' elimination of Pedro Borges is seen as a parallel manifestation of a rebellious pride whereby man usurps God's role as molder and judge of the world," noted Chang. As the novel, and the series, ends, Branco accepts the fact that he has not been chosen by God to change the world and resolves to accept his fate and devote himself entirely to his family.
Chang called the "Tragédia burguesa" "a tightly woven web of literary lives corresponding to the timeline warp and the interconnecting weft of a social fabric. . . . The cycle chronicles the interactions of a group of young people of the author's generation from the traditional aristocracy and the nouveau riche bourgeois within a society which is presented as being in a state of crisis and decline due to the dissolution of its underlying moral values. These values, in turn, are depicted as finding their strongest supports in the family and the church, although both of these institutions also suffer from the societal crisis as Faria defines it."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Discurso Literario, autumn, 1986, Linda S. Chang, "Paradoxes and Paradigms from the Brazilian Right: Politics and Anti-Politics in the 'Tragédia Burguesa,'" pp. 85-93.
Ideologies and Literature, spring, 1988, Randal Johnson, "Authoritarian Fiction: Octávio de Faria's 'Tragédia Burguesa,'" pp. 159-178.*